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The Story of the Manning Family from Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) in North Wales.

Manning Family grave at St Seiriol's Churchyard in Holyhead

Manning Family grave at St Seiriol's Churchyard in Holyhead.

This story is of one Anglesey family that gave of their all in the service of their country during WWI. The father and his sons all served this country, with two of them paying the ultimate price.

Captain Lionel John Manning M.B.E.:-
Lionel John Manning was born in 1858 in Hillsborough, Co Down, Ireland. Lionel married Frances Maria Hanlon on the 3rd of June 1884 at Rathmines, Co Dublin, his address being given as
4, Upper Ely Place, Dublin, and his father’s name as Robert Manning.
Their eldest son, Victor Lionel, was born in 1885, Ruth Noel was born in 1888, and another son Robert Charles was born in 1889, all three were born in Dublin.
In the very late 1880’s Lionel’s work as a mariner brought him to Anglesey, where three further children were born, Hester Mary (1891), Francis Graham (1892) and William Gibson (1898).
The family set up home at Maes-yr-Haf in Holyhead, and Lionel was employed as a Master Mariner, working as a Captain on one of the London and North Western Railway boats, which sailed to Ireland on a daily basis.
By the time of the 1911 census the Manning family had relocated to a house named Gorphwysfa in Valley, just three miles from Holyhead. It is for this reason that the names of the two brothers - that later lost their lives - appears on both the Holyhead and the Valley War Memorials.
Lionel John Manning was the Captain on board the S.S. Anglia, which sailed between Holyhead and Kingstown in Ireland. When war broke out the Anglia was commandeered by the Admiralty and refitted as an auxiliary hospital ship, then put into service to assist the war effort. She was crewed by 56 sailors, mainly from Holyhead and Anglesey.
In November 1915, with medical personnel on board, they had picked up 390 wounded officers and soldiers from Calais. They did not know that the German submarine UC-5 had laid mines in the English Channel. Some time around 12:30 pm on the 17th of November 1915, they were just a mile off Folkestone Gate when H.M.H.S. Anglia hit a mine and began to sink. Estimates of the loss of life (due to the explosion or drowning) vary up to 164, with 25 of that number being crew.
Captain Manning survived, and went on to continue his work on the Irish Ferry Boats until his retirement.

Grave Inscription of Frances Maria Manning died July 1936

Grave inscription for Lionel's wife, Frances Maria Manning died July 1936 aged 79.

Grave Inscription of Lionel John Manning, Captain (and survivor) of the H.M.H.S. Anglia when she was sunk. Died Dec 31st 1943 aged 84

Grave inscription for Lionel John Manning, Captain (and survivor) of the H.M.H.S. Anglia when she was sunk in the English Channel. Died December 31st 1943 aged 84.

Children - Ruth Noel, Hester Maria Josephine, and William Gibson Manning Inscription on grave

Children - Ruth Noel, Hester Maria Josephine, and William Gibson Manning Inscription on grave.


Robert Charles Manning M.C., D.S.O.:-
Robert Charles Manning was born at Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin in Ireland in 1889, the second son of Lionel John Manning and Francis Maria Manning (nee Hanlon).
In college he attained a master’s degree in engineering from Trinity College in Dublin, during which time he became a member of the University Officer Training Corps.
In the December quarter of 1915 in the registration district of Headington, which covered the counties of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, Robert Charles Manning married Anna Francis Manning (nee Broughall). Some time after graduating he moved to Canada to work as a Civil Engineer.
In September 1914 Robert joined the 1st Canadian Division Cyclist Company in Quebec. They arrived in England mid October 1914, and after 4 months training left for France.
In 1915 Robert was given a commission in the field for conspicuous bravery, and had transferred into the Royal Engineers, where he joined the recently formed 170th Tunnelling Company. He was awarded the Military Cross the same year.
In 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and in January 1918 the French Legion of Honour, for the saving of the coal mines at Lens.
During these years he had been mentioned in dispatches no less than five times, and by early 1918 had advanced to the rank of Major.
We are not sure what the circumstances of his death were, but it seems likely that he was killed by enemy booby traps. Robert died of his wounds on the 6th of November 1918 aged 29, and was buried at Pernes British Cemetery in France.
The only record I could find of their having any children is on the grave of his brother, where it shows that an infant child of theirs had died on the 19th of April 1919.

Robert Charles Manning D.S.O., M.C. Major Royal Engineers Tunneling Company died 6th September 1918 aged 29 grave inscription
Robert Charles Manning D.S.O., M.C. Major Royal Engineers Tunneling Company died 6th September 1918 aged 29 grave inscription.

Robert Charles Manning's Infant Son died 19th April 1919

Robert Charles Manning's Infant Son died 19th April 1919.

Victor Lionel Manning:-
Victor was born in Dublin in 1885, at his mother’s family home at 53, Kenilworth Square (where she had married from).
When his parents moved to Holyhead it seems he stayed in Ireland to complete his studies.
By the age of 26 Victor was living with his aunty, Harriette Jane Hanlon in Dublin, at the address where he was born. He worked as a Civil Servant, and was employed with the Education Department.
Victor enlisted to the army as a Private, and received a commission in 1917. He was sent to France in July 1917 as a second lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps.

Second Lieutenant Victor Lionel Manning

Second Lieutenant Victor Lionel Manning.

Victor was killed on the 23rd of March 1918 aged 32, and is buried at Bancourt British Cemetery in France.

Victor Lionel Manning, 2nd Lieutenant Machine Gun Corps killed in France March 28th 1918 aged 32 grave inscription

Victor Lionel Manning, 2nd Lieutenant Machine Gun Corps killed in France March 28th 1918 aged 32 grave inscription.

BACK FROM THE DEAD RIDDLE – reported in the Kalgoorlie Miner Daily Paper in Western Australia dated 16th April 1929.
Twelve years ago Lieut. Victor Lionel Manning, a British officer, was reported killed in action. A few weeks ago his father, Captain Manning, of Rhosneigr, Anglesey, received a letter, in his son's handwriting from a man serving a five years' sentence in Ontario, claiming to be his son. Another son saw the man in prison, and declared him to be an impostor. 'These, briefly, are the salient details in still another post-war 'back from the dead' drama. The man who claims to be Captain Manning's son is in Sault St. Marie Prison in Ontario, where he is known as Edward Luckland Russell .
He declares that he has suffered from a lapse of memory, following head wounds received on the Western front, and tells a poignant story of his sufferings since the war ended, in which, he says, he roamed through Russia. Captain Manning, who is a retired commodore of the L.M.S. fleet of cross-Channel steamers, asked another of his sons, Mr. William Manning, who is a purser in the liner Minnewaska, to interview the claimant. On his next voyage in the Minnewaska, he obtained leave, and visited the man known as Russell in prison. He declared him to be an impostor. Russell heard this, and his eyes blazed and his frame quivered as he struggled with his warders, and shouted, 'Who, in God's name, am I, if I am not your brother? For God's sake; make sure!' Since Mr. William Manning returned to England, further inquiries have been initiated, and are still being conducted by Deputy Chief Constable Fair, of Holyhead, who now believes that the supposed son of Captain Manning is really a' native of Holyhead, whose father is in America. According to the War Office Records, Temporary 2nd Lieutenant Victor Lionel Manning, of the 25th Company, Machine Gun Corps, was killed in action on March 23rd 1918, during the great German 'push.' His body was identified. These strange facts remain; the handwriting in the letter written by the claimant is declared by hand writing experts to be identical with that of the last letter written by Lieutenant Manning to his parents, and a photograph of the claimant, sent from his Canadian-prison, bear a striking resemblance.

Francis Graham John Manning:-
Francis had been born in Holyhead in September 1892 to Lionel John Manning and Frances Maria Manning (nee Hanlon).
The London Gazette dated the 31st of August 1915 chronicles his appointment as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. Sub-Lieutenant Manning left for South Africa on board H.M.S. Vengeance.
In South Africa Sub-Lieutenant Manning was transferred to the cruiser ‘Talbot’. In the landings at Simba Urange he was in charge of navigating one of her steam pinnaces. He disembarked Royal Marines and Askaris, who subsequently took over a gun emplacement which once housed one of the Konigsbergs 4.1 inch guns.
On the 15th of August 1916 he won a mention in despatches for a similar action at Bagomayo. In charge of a machine gun section he went ashore himself and succeeded in taking another Kongsberg land mounted gun emplacement. Admiral Charlton said that it was a remarkable piece of work.
Summarising the operation it was said ‘As soon as our men landed, Sub-Lieutenant Manning was sent in charge of a machine gun section to rush the hill and capture the 4.1 inch gun. This he did very skilfully, taking cover as soon as he reached the top of the rise, and peppering the Germans relentlessly, until they abandoned their gun and took to their heels. In addition to the gun, over 80 ammunition rounds were found in the magazine nearby. Some days later the gun and ammunition were shipped to Zanzibar, where they were put on display. Later the gun was shipped to Great Britain and put on display at the Mall, near the north door of the Admiralty.
In the summer of 1917, Manning joined the Q Ship Acton (Q-34). On the 20th of August 1917 in the early evening a submarine was sighted by the men on the Acton, and she reduced her speed from 10 knots to 8 and maintained her course. The order was given to make more smoke and to avoid letting off steam.
The submarine began firing and continued at distances between 8,300 to 6,000 yards. Over a timescale of about 90 minutes, the submarine fired 50 to 60 rounds, some of which were time fused.
Seeing the Acton lowering boats, the submarine UC-72 ceased firing and submerged. After some time at the periscope, and having come so close to the Acton that it had collided with her, shaking her violently, the submarine surfaced. The submarine began circling the Acton, and at a distance of between 200-300 yards the Acton open fired. Of six rounds that were fired, four hit the conning tower of the submarine, and she again submerged. The Acton went full ahead, and attempted to ram the sub, and dropping a depth charge at the place she was last seen. After 15 seconds a dark coloured column leapt 30 feet into the air.
Lieutenant Manning was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in the destruction of the submarine UC-72.

Francis Graham John Manning Medals

Francis Graham John Manning's Medals including his D.S.C.

Francis Graham John Manning survived the war and died in 1981. His name is the only one of the family that does not appear to be on the grave in St Seiriol's Churchyard. It would be appropriate - I believe - if the grave could be restored to its' original condition in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One (WWI), it is certainly in need of it. This family deserve it!

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